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29 APRIL TO 10 JULY 2016

From the Vault:
The Director's Cut

Curated by Peter Dykhuis

Our previous exhibition, titled "Why are we saving All these artist publications + Other Galleries stuffs?": The Emergence of Artist-run Culture in Halifax, presented a discursive look at the formative years of Eye Level Gallery and Centre for Art Tapes, founded in 1974 and 1978 respectively.

While local artists were creating a new paradigm for producing and presenting their work, Dalhousie Art Gallery was experiencing a transformation as well. Through the efforts of Dalhousie University faculty members, Dalhousie Art Gallery was officially established in the 1953-4 academic year, making it the oldest public art gallery in Halifax. In 1971, the Gallery moved into a purpose-built, secure, and climate controlled home in the Dalhousie Arts Centre, and, with the appointment of professional staff, rapidly expanded its programs and permanent collection, and developed a reputation for scholarly historical research in Canadian art and for its challenging contemporary exhibitions.

In keeping with the previous exhibition's timeframe of 1970-1985 and its concept of presenting a narrative of an institution’s history and development as told through its archival records, From the Vault: The Director's Cut presents a narrative of the development of the Gallery as seen through its permanent collection.

From the Vault: The Director's Cut illustrates the active, purchase-based, decision making process that evolved–or devolved–between 1970 and 1985. The curatorial premise is not predicated on the aesthetics of individual works of art but rather on their position within the collection-building process, a by-product of which is the ‘profiling’ of the values or sensibilities of the purchasing Director. Of the 195 works of art that were acquired between 1970 and 1985, 118 were purchases, 63 of which were artworks created after 1960. In this exhibition, which follows a loose chronology, each Director's acquisitions are grouped together and the artworks' labels include the specifics of how or why the work was purchased. What emerges is a portrait of the collection's context: how much money was available at the time for the purchases? Were these independent purchases or was work selected from exhibitions? Were third parties involved in the funding process or were conditional purchase suggestions made that the Director agreed to? And, ultimately, how did the purchases reflect the intellectual, cultural and aesthetic values of each Director?